GRAHAM COUNTY — As the sun rose on the Gila Valley on Saturday, groups of people gathered in multiple locations to clean and make the community a better place.
The effort was part of the Graham County Make a Difference Day, organized by the Graham County Make a Difference Day Committee, and took place at six locations across the Valley.
Graham County Board of Supervisors Chairman Danny Smith participated in the event as a street captain for the High Mesa Air Park location, where he oversaw operations to clean the area.
“This is something we do twice a year, and we’ve picked up several hundred tons of trash so far in the last few efforts,” Smith said.
Smith wasn’t alone at High Mesa; he also had the help of a few Girl Scouts and residents like Reverend Sherry Brady.
“We’re here and participating . . . and we just happen to live over there,” said Brady, who was gathering trash alongside neighbor Kendi Willy.
For some, the cleanup efforts are a way of taking care of an area that gives them so much enjoyment. That’s what prompted Tim Linden to captain the cleanup effort at the Clay Knolls site.
“Me and my wife thought we’d come and clean out here today. We like to enjoy the outdoors, and we spend a lot of time on our side-by-side touring the desert. We found some areas that were very concerning, and Clay Knolls happens to be one of them. It just seems like a lot of people don’t care about illegal dumping, and it really trashes up the area,” Linden said.
Illegal dumping is one of the largest concerns faced by the committee. Another is trash not secured, allowing wind to blow it across the community. That was addressed by two groups cleaning areas along the train tracks on 8th Street in Safford.
“We need to get more volunteers,” said Jay Rasco, who captained the Safford effort. “We’ll keep doing it, but we need to build more community pride.”
The group at the tracks near 8th Street and U.S. Highway 191 was made of seasoned veterans — none was under the age of 63. But the volunteers said they wouldn’t have minded some help from the younger crowd.
“I think we need to get the message into the schools, do some promotion of the cleanup there,” Rose West said. “We need to start getting kids to care early.”
Paul Robinson said it didn’t matter who was helping, just that the community came together.
“This is a great project. And the best part is everyone is unified,” Robinson said. “We really have to thank Danny Smith and Laura Rogers for organizing this. They’re doing an excellent job of making our community a great place to live, work and play.”
As part of Community Pride days taking place this week, the landfill is waiving dumping fees for residential and household waste.
Residents must provide identification to document their place of residency within Graham County.
There will be a $10 charge for unsecured loads. Appliances with refrigerant are not accepted; there will be a fee of $25 for all appliances with refrigerant evacuation certification.
Special landfill hours will be Monday-Saturday, 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
For more information about how to get involved in the fall Make a Difference Day event, call Rogers at 928-792-5368.
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